Your business card is often the first impression that prospects or business associates get of your company. It is also often the last impression after you hand it to them and move on. So, it’s important that your business card be designed with four factors in mind.
- Professionalism. For someone in the financial industry, professionalism usually means conservatism. A financial card will have a “no-nonsense, all-business” look and feel. A high-tech industry business card might try to show innovation by using cutting edge images or lingo. A graphic artist business card would need to show creativity, perhaps by the use of color or design.
- What your company actually DOES. Too often, company names and logos found on business cards don’t indicate what the firm does. Too often we see business card designs submitted for printing that do not clearly indicate what the firm does or even what industry they are in. Ensure that the images and/or the text on the business card leave a strong and favorable impression that relates to your business. A tag line is one way to simply and clearly communicate the products or services you offer.
- Consistency. You want to have an overall brand image for your organization. Consistently branding all your printed and online material projects a stronger company image than handing out printed materials that are not coordinated. Your business cards are a critical part of this brand consistency, which is called the brand identity, and not a rushed and isolated printing event just because the cards ran out.
- Breathing room. Don’t cram everything about your company onto your business card because it makes it confusing to read. Take the time to boil down your product/services to a short tag line, two if you must.
What factors contribute to a business card that makes an impression? The most important are:
- Design. Too often, many people who work in MS Word or PowerPoint feel that they are “designers” and therefore, create their own business cards. Not a good idea. There are many highly skilled graphic designers using professional design software that create cards that reflect your business in a way that will get positive attention. A note of caution: Sometimes, designers get carried away with fancy graphic techniques which look very cool but can cost you a lot of money to have printed. Be sure that you discuss your printing budget up front with your designer.
- Paper stock: The same card can look very different when printed on different quality paper. An expensive linen stock conveys “exclusivity” and is often used by investment companies or those with a wealthy clientele. A sparkly paper would be used by those in the fashion industry as it conveys “bling”. A 100% cotton, natural paper might be used by a client who is in the natural foods business. There are thousands of paper stocks to choose from. Many have unusual texture, color, feel and look. A note of caution: Unusual paper is often available only in large, “parent-size” sheets which, unless you are ordering a large number of cards, can be cost-prohibitive. So discuss paper with your printer before deciding on the exact one you want or be prepared to pay a premium.Paper is available in light and very heavy weights. Usually heavier weight stocks are preferred as they suggest “substance”. Yet if you’re looking to print 50 cards digitally in one day, you won’t be able to get a very heavy stock because digital equipment cannot run very thick stock. And remember that if you choose a colored paper (even an ivory or off-white), the text and image colors on the card will look different than if you’d selected white.
- Finishes: Business cards can be left “unfinished” or “finished”. An “unfinished” card is one in which there is no coating over the paper. A majority of cards are left unfinished for many reasons (the stock itself is key to the look of the card, it’s not necessary technically, etc.). Business cards can be aqueous coated, UV coated, varnished, silk laminated or have some other finishing process. Each one gives a different “look and feel” and sometimes, it’s required so that the ink does not smear. Your printer can help you decide what is best.
These are the most important elements to consider when designing a new business card. There are three primary techniques which printers use to physically print the business cards: spot color printing, full color printing, and digital printing. Depending upon the look you’re going for, your printer can help you decide what’s best for you – quality wise and price wise.